Grilling: Huli Huli Chicken


Fire up your grill and get ready for some serious smoke.

Grilling: Huli Huli Chicken
  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time:1 hour
  • Total time:2-9 hours
  • Rated: 4.0

[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

It's almost Fourth of July and soon backyards across this great nation will be awash in hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken cooking over searing coals. I'm with the populist when it comes to celebrating our independence, opting for standard cookout fare, but after trying this Huli Huli chicken last weekend, I'll be going for the Hawaiian take on barbecue chicken this year.

Using the traditional method of roasting, then saucing a bird, Huli Huli chicken introduces a new set of flavors that is reminiscent of the American classic, but takes it to exciting new places.

First the chicken gets a soak in a soy sauce-heavy brine. Then it's smoke-roasted over a medium fire on both sides, producing a beautifully brown and crisp bird. The real magic comes with the final coat of glaze, whose pineapple juice base brings the island feel to this sauce.

The final product is a true triumph in barbecue chicken. It's smoky, juicy, fruity, sweet, and tangy—so many excellent flavors that come to together into bird that puts those standard tomato-based sauced chickens to shame.

Adapted from Cook's Country

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.


  • For the Brine
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 split chicken halves
  • For the Glaze
  • 18 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 chunks of a medium smoking wood, like hickory or oak
  • Type of fire: Direct
  • Grill heat: medium


  1. 1.

    To make the brine, combine the water and soy sauce in a large bowl. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir into soy sauce mixture. Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for a least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

  2. 2.

    To make the glaze, combine pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in empty saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, 25 to 30 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Light one chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place wood chunks on one side of the charcoal. Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken, skin-side up, on the side of the grill away from the wood chunks. Cover and grill until chicken is well browned on the bottom and meat registers 120 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Flip chicken skin-side down and continue to grill, covered, until skin is well browned and crisp and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Flip chicken, brush with half of glaze, and transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with remaining glaze.

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